Youth unemployment statistics for small geographic areas: a quick guide

1 May 2014 

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Penny Vandenbroek

Statistics and Mapping


This guide provides a brief overview of the youth unemployment data available for small geographic areas. This is one in a series of Quick Guides related to labour statistics, designed to provide a basic understanding of Australian labour market data. Other guides include labour force, unemployment, youth unemployment and employment, which are available from the Parliamentary Library website.

Labour force data for small geographic areas

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently moved to a new geographic standard for the dissemination of regional data from the Labour Force Survey. The survey is a key source of information on employment, unemployment, the labour force and associated rates and ratios. The change was designed to provide more robust data for smaller geographic areas, with a focus on regional labour markets.

While the focus of this paper is on data available on youth unemployment at the smallest geographical level, data is also available for states and territories, and by greater capital city and balance of state. For more information, summaries and fact sheets on the new ABS geographical framework, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

Youth unemployment

The ABS produces labour force estimates through the monthly Labour Force Survey. This household survey is designed to produce key estimates of unemployment (and employment) from a sample of approximately 56,000 people across Australia. Unemployed people are defined by the ABS as persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed during the survey reference week and:

  • had actively looked for work and were available to work (in the reference week), or
  • were waiting to start a new job.

Young unemployed people are those who have been classified as unemployed and are aged 15 to 24 years. See the separate release, Labour Stats 101 youth unemployment: a quick guide for more detailed information.

Regional labour force data

There is limited data available on young unemployed persons (aged 15 to 24 years) for small areas such as Commonwealth Electoral Divisions (CEDs). This is due to the volatile nature of estimates based on small numbers of people (i.e. young unemployed people are a sub-set of all unemployed people). The exception to this is Census data, however it only relates to a small time frame every five years (the most recent data is at August 2011). The ABS does however, release unemployment rates by age group for regional areas using Statistical Areas Level 4.

Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4)

The Statistical Areas Level 4 classification is used to produce labour force estimates for 87 spatial areas across Australia. These spatial areas form part of the new geographic standard through which labour force estimates are now disseminated. These areas replace the formerly used labour force statistical regions.

SA4s are the largest sub-State regions in the new geographic structure. They are designed for the output of labour force data and to reflect labour markets within each State and Territory. More information is available from:

SA4 data is from the original (unadjusted) series. Due to the small sample size involved, the sampling errors with some estimates may be quite high.

From January 2014, labour force estimates are compiled using population benchmarks from the 2011 Census. Therefore, the estimates may vary to data previously published. Past estimates (prior to December 2013) have also been adjusted using the revised population benchmarks. . For more information see the ‘Summary’ tab information with the ABS release, Labour force, detailed – electronic delivery, Dec 2013 (Cat. no. 6291.0.55.001).

Estimates by SA4s are available from October 1998 however, caution should be used when analysing estimates prior to April 2001, as a new survey questionnaire was introduced at this time and only core labour force estimates were revised.

Available data

Each month the ABS releases regional labour force data in their publication, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed – Electronic delivery (Cat. No. 6291.0.55.001), see:

  • Table 16. Labour force status by Regions (SA4) and sex
  • RM1. Labour force status by Regions (SA4), Sex and Age, October 1998 onwards

There are also two associated data cubes, relating specifically to unemployed people:

  • RM2. Unemployed persons by Regions (SA4) and Duration of unemployment since last full-time job, October 1998 onwards
  • RM3. Unemployed persons by Regions (SA4) and Duration of job search, April 2001 onwards

Available data (cont.)

The data released by regions and age group (RM1) can be used to assess the youth labour market
(e.g. employment, unemployment, and participation rates). It can also be used to look at the older labour market (e.g. people aged 55 years and over). SA4s are the smallest statistical area for which labour force estimates by age group are available.

The Statistics and Mapping Section of the Parliamentary Library has published 2013 annual average unemployment rates for each SA4, as well as comparable state/territory (or part thereof) estimates in FlagPost. The annual averages are calculated using 12 months of original data from January to December, with youth unemployment rates ranging from 5.7% to 20.2%.

Which Statistical Area (SA4) is relevant?

Local Government Areas (LGAs, 2011 boundaries) can be used to approximate Commonwealth Electoral Divisions (2012 boundaries) and to then assess the most appropriate Statistical Area(s) from which to select labour force data. While generally not an exact match, LGAs serve as a guide to selecting the best available regional data for an electorate.

Based on the largest proportion(s) of people who lived in LGAs that fell either partly or wholly within an electorate a suggestion for up to two SA4s can be provided. The Statistics and Mapping Section of the Parliamentary Library is currently providing this assessment for individual clients, but in the coming months this process will be automated and then become available on the Statistics webpage – Small area labour market data. In the interim, the following table provides a list of electorates (2012 boundaries) and their suggested SA4s.

Suggested Statistical Areas (SA4) by Commonwealth Electoral Division

Electoral Division(a) SA4: Suggestion 1 SA4: Suggestion 2
Adelaide Adelaide - Central and Hills Adelaide - North
Aston Melbourne - Outer East
Ballarat Ballarat
Banks Sydney - Inner South West
Barker South Australia - South East
Barton Sydney - Inner South West
Bass Launceston and North East
Batman Melbourne - North East Melbourne - Inner
Bendigo Bendigo
Bennelong Sydney - Ryde Sydney - Parramatta
Berowra Sydney - Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury Sydney - North Sydney and Hornsby
Blair Ipswich
Blaxland Sydney - Parramatta Sydney - Inner South West
Bonner Brisbane - East Brisbane - South
Boothby Adelaide - South
Bowman Brisbane - East
Braddon West and North West
Bradfield Sydney - North Sydney and Hornsby
Brand Perth - South West Mandurah
Brisbane Brisbane Inner City
Bruce Melbourne - South East
Calare Central West
Calwell Melbourne - North West Melbourne West
Canberra Australian Capital Territory
Canning Perth - South East Mandurah
Capricornia Fitzroy Mackay
Casey Melbourne - Outer East
Charlton Newcastle and Lake Macquarie
Chifley Sydney - Blacktown
Chisholm Melbourne - South East Melbourne - Inner East
Cook Sydney - Sutherland
Corangamite Geelong Warrnambool and South West
Corio Geelong
Cowan Perth - North West Perth - North East
Cowper Coffs Harbour - Grafton Mid North Coast
Cunningham Illawarra
Curtin Perth - Inner Perth - North West
Dawson Mackay Townsville
Deakin Melbourne - Outer East Melbourne - Inner East
Denison Hobart
Dickson Moreton Bay - South
Dobell Central Coast
Dunkley Mornington Peninsula
Durack Western Australia - Outback Western Australia - Wheat Belt
Eden-Monaro Capital Region
Fadden Gold Coast
Fairfax Sunshine Coast
Farrer Murray Far West and Orana
Fisher Sunshine Coast
Flinders Mornington Peninsula Melbourne - South East
Flynn Fitzroy Wide Bay
Forde Logan - Beaudesert Gold Coast
Forrest Bunbury
Fowler Sydney - South West
Franklin Hobart South East
Fraser Australian Capital Territory
Fremantle Perth - South West
Gellibrand Melbourne - West
Gilmore Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven Illawarra
Gippsland Latrobe - Gippsland
Goldstein Melbourne - Inner South
Gorton Melbourne - West
Grayndler Sydney - Inner West Sydney - City and Inner South
Greenway Sydney - Blacktown Sydney - Parramatta
Grey South Australia - Outback Barossa - Yorke - Mid North
Griffith Brisbane - South Brisbane Inner City
Groom Toowoomba Darling Downs - Maranoa
Hasluck Perth - South East Perth - North East
Herbert Townsville
Higgins Melbourne - Inner South Melbourne - Inner
Hindmarsh Adelaide - West Adelaide - South
Hinkler Wide Bay
Holt Melbourne - South East
Hotham Melbourne - South East Melbourne - Inner South
Hughes Sydney - Sutherland Sydney - South West
Hume Capital Region Sydney - Outer South West
Hunter Hunter Valley exc Newcastle
Indi Hume
Isaacs Melbourne - Inner South Melbourne - South East
Jagajaga Melbourne - North East
Kennedy Cairns Queensland - Outback
Kingsford Smith Sydney - Eastern Suburbs Sydney - City and Inner South
Kingston Adelaide - South
Kooyong Melbourne - Inner East
La Trobe Melbourne - South East Melbourne - Outer East
Lalor Melbourne - West
Leichhardt Cairns Queensland - Outback
Lilley Brisbane - North
Lindsay Sydney - Outer West and Blue Mountains
Lingiari Northern Territory - Outback Darwin
Longman Moreton Bay - North
Lyne Mid North Coast
Lyons Launceston and North East Hobart
Macarthur Sydney - Outer South West
Mackellar Sydney - Northern Beaches
Macquarie Sydney - Outer West and Blue Mountains Sydney - Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury
Makin Adelaide - North
Mallee North West
Maranoa Darling Downs - Maranoa Wide Bay
Maribyrnong Melbourne - West Melbourne - North West
Mayo Adelaide - Central and Hills South Australia - South East
McEwen Melbourne - North West Melbourne - North East
McMahon Sydney - South West Sydney - Parramatta
Mcmillan Latrobe - Gippsland Melbourne - South East
Mcpherson Gold Coast
Melbourne Melbourne - Inner
Melbourne Ports Melbourne - Inner Melbourne - Inner South
Menzies Melbourne - Inner East Melbourne - Outer East
Mitchell Sydney - Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury Sydney - Parramatta
Moncrieff Gold Coast
Moore Perth - North West
Moreton Brisbane - South Brisbane - West
Murray Shepparton
New England New England and North West
Newcastle Newcastle and Lake Macquarie
North Sydney Sydney - North Sydney and Hornsby
O'Connor Western Australia - Wheat Belt Western Australia - Outback
Oxley Ipswich Brisbane - West
Page Richmond - Tweed Coffs Harbour - Grafton
Parkes Far West and Orana New England and North West
Parramatta Sydney - Parramatta
Paterson Hunter Valley exc Newcastle Mid North Coast
Pearce Perth - North East Perth - North West
Perth Perth - North East Perth - Inner
Petrie Moreton Bay - North Brisbane - North
Port Adelaide Adelaide - West Adelaide - North
Rankin Logan - Beaudesert Brisbane - South
Reid Sydney - Inner West Sydney - Parramatta
Richmond Richmond - Tweed
Riverina Riverina
Robertson Central Coast
Ryan Brisbane - West Brisbane Inner City
Scullin Melbourne - North East
Shortland Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Central Coast
Solomon Darwin
Stirling Perth - North West
Sturt Adelaide - Central and Hills Adelaide - North
Swan Perth - South East
Sydney Sydney - City and Inner South Sydney - Inner West
Tangney Perth - South West Perth - South East
Throsby Illawarra Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven
Wakefield Adelaide - North Barossa - Yorke - Mid North
Wannon Warrnambool and South West Ballarat
Warringah Sydney - Northern Beaches Sydney - North Sydney and Hornsby
Watson Sydney - Inner South West Sydney - Inner West
Wentworth Sydney - Eastern Suburbs Sydney - City and Inner South
Werriwa Sydney - Outer South West Sydney - South West
Wide Bay Wide Bay Sunshine Coast
Wills Melbourne - Inner Melbourne - North West
Wright Logan - Beaudesert Gold Coast
(a) 2012 boundaries.


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